Ingredients for success in high school football would include athletes, depth, size, all-important chemistry and, oh yeah, focus.
Lots of focus.
No less than two of Schaumburg's stars and its head coach referenced that Friday night after its hard-fought 37-21 Mid-Suburban divisional crossover win at Hersey. It wasn't until the Saxons (3-0) got their focus back that they finally pulled away from the gritty Huskies (1-2).
Knotted at 14 at the half, Schaumburg got a spectacular leaping catch from Cole Reyes on a heave from Nick Anzelmo (8-of-19, 140 yards), who then turned it into a 69-yard TD with a spin into a sprint away from Hersey's secondary.
That erased Hersey's last rally on Ed Miklasz' 3-touchdown performance (10 catches, 103 yards) and a stellar drive thereafter really iced things. Anzelmo finished that, scoring from the 1 after the legs of Sadarriss Patterson (13 carries, 41 yards) and the hands of Juwaan Richard (2 catches, 32 yards) pushed the drive along. Schaumburg converted 2 key third downs on the possession, including Richards' 16-yarder to Hersey's 12.
"I just sat there and caught it," he said modestly after running a crisp post pattern with a defender draped on him.
More importantly, "We came out more focused," in the second half, he said, fortunate to be knotted at 14 as Reyes turned a pick into a 40-yard score.
Focused, indeed. The Saxons committed 12 penalties for 125 yards, many of the unsportsmanlike-conduct, late-hit and facemask variety.
"We made things hard on ourselves," said Saxons coach Mark Stilling. "I thought Hersey played their tails off. They did some good things on both sides of the ball."
Particularly Miklasz, whom the Saxons couldn't cover. He got wide open for one TD and outleaped a defender for another, both on fades in the first half. On his third TD, in the third quarter, he turned inward toward the post instead. Quinn Orlandi (15-of-25, 122, 2 picks) put the ball on his numbers each time.
But he put one on Reyes' numbers in the first half and one on Richards' numbers in the second half that became 40-yard and 85-yard Schaumburg TDs, respectively. Richards' pick clinched things outright.
Rashad McFadden's ability to pester Orlandi and command a double-team from Hersey really ignited Schaumburg's defense though in the second half.
"They're extremely talented," Hersey coach Dragan Teonic said of the Saxons.
But Hersey's strategist lamented his own team's inability to capitalize on field position several times. McFadden got help on from Blake Wittkamp stuffing the run, big Lee Duhs occupying multiple offensive linemen and Reyes being everywhere else.
Richards and then Rashaan Green, took turns finally knocking balls away from Miklasz in key situations and Wittkamp added a 37-yard field goal.
"We didn't convert on a couple of key plays," said Teonic.
But even with the win, Schaumburg now has to reach into its tool box as well.
"We're going to fix those mistakes," said Reyes.